It's supposed to be the dedicated smartphone for gamers, so how does the XPERIA Play stand up?
Angry Birds, shmangry birds; dedicated gamers are looking to do more on their smartphones than sling freaky-looking birds at smart-alec pigs – or that’s what Sony Ericsson is banking on, anyway. The XPERIA Play is as close as we’re ever likely to get to the fabled ‘PlayStation phone’, and it looks the part with a slide-out gamepad that’s almost an exact copy of the Sony PlayStation controller.
The XPERIA Play is the world’s first ‘PlayStation-certified’ device, enabling users to play re-purposed PlayStation games without having to install a dodgy ROM emulator. The gamepad supports standard Android games as well, and it ships with a decent selection of titles including FIFA 10, Star Battalion and The Sims 3.
In practice, the gamepad works beautifully for handheld gaming. The buttons are nicely raised with excellent tactile feedback, and we found the four-way directional pad and dual touchpads to be far superior for controlling the on-screen action over a touchscreen (although you can still use that too). The stereo speakers pump out powerful, full-bodied audio, however the 854 x 480 LCD display could be brighter, and washes out in bright sunlight.
We would’ve loved to see the Play equipped with a dual-core processor and a gig of RAM, but then it might have been even thicker and heavier than its 16mm and 175g measurements. As it is, the single-core 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 512MB of RAM and Adreno GPU graphics processor proved to be adequate for the job; games load quickly and frame rates are smooth.
In case you wanted to use the Play for something other than gaming, it’s speedy for everything else as well, and the Quadrant benchmark score of 1,551 makes it one of the fastest single-core Android smartphones we've seen. Available from Sony Ericsson, retailing for $960.APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)